If you are considering moving to a new life in Spain then it is important that you plan your budget in advance. If you have a job offer on the table you need to get an idea of how far the salary will take you. Don’t get on the plane without a clear idea of the cost of living in Spain. Whilst Spain has a reputation as one of the cheapest destinations in Western Europe, one must not lose sight of the fact that wages are low, and that real estate is disproportionately expensive.
This article has a lot of data points, but here are a few fast facts to give you a sense of pricing: you can get a haircut for 10 Euros, a beer for 2, but may have to pay 50 Euros a month for a gym to work off the calories. A cheap date can be had for 16 Euros if you take in a movie (6 Euros) and tapas for two (10 Euros).
With real estate, if you are thinking of buying in one of the major cities then as at February 2010 you will be paying around 3,500 Euros per square meter for a centrally located flat. This is about 30% less than 2009 prices, and compares to around 11 Euros per month per square meter if you want to rent. This data applies to Barcelona and Madrid, but rent gets cheaper in cities like Seville where it drops to as low as 6 Euros per square meter per month.
One thing to watch out for is the Balearic Islands: The prices can be higher than the mainland.
Once you are in your property; whether purchased or rented, you are responsible for paying the utilities. Even in a modest flat these expenses can soon rack with gas costing around 25 Euros per month per person when used to heat water and a stove. Electricity costs around the same, and will rise in the summer by 15 Euros per month if it is used for air conditioning. Phone bills will depend on your usage, but bear in mind that a landline costs at least 20 Euros per month just for line rental. Parking is usually extra when you rent a flat, and in cities expect to pay around 100 Euros a month.
The cost of healthcare will vary depending on your country of origin. If you are from Europe then you may benefit from a reciprocal arrangement with your home nation insurance. The important thing is to check the facts and make sure that you are insured; otherwise this could end up being an expense that bankrupts you.
Eating out need not be expensive if you know the right places: A meal for two can cost as little as 10 Euros at a decent tapas joint, and you can get a beer for 2 Euros – these are prices far lower than places like London and Paris. And some say the food it tastier too! Groceries for one can come in at under 200 Euros a month.
So all told what is the cost of living in Spain? Well it will vary with income, but to have a decent lifestyle you should make sure you have at least 1,500 Euros of disposable income each month.